Posts filed under ‘Nursing’
Last Tuesday, July 19th, The Lund Report published a guest opinion piece that I wrote. It discusses why the Oregon Health Insurance Exchange Corporation should evaluate whether or not companies selling products within the exchange should cover spiritual health care services. You can read the piece on The Lund Report website, or read it below. John D. Clague, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Oregon.
By: John Clague
July 19, 2011 — “With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, we have an opportunity to design and build an Exchange that meets Oregonians’ needs. Oregon will develop a strong, patient-centered Exchange that ensures choice, value and access.” So begins the mission statement for an insurance exchange.
It’s found in the executive summary of Building Oregon’s Health Insurance Exchange, A Report to the Oregon Legislature authored by the Oregon Health Policy Board.
Before the 76th Legislative Assembly adjourned last month it passed Senate Bill 99, which creates the Oregon Health Insurance Exchange Corporation, charged with setting up and managing the health insurance exchange. My hope is that it will meet all Oregonians’ needs.
Some studies indicate that 40 percent of Americans have sought alternative solutions for their health, and experts in the medical field are considering how consciousness affects health. A recent study released by Dr. Amy B. Wachholtz, a psychiatrist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, finds that 49 percent of Americans have used prayer to deal with a health concern. So when it comes to implementing healthcare reform, it’s important to enable consideration of other forms of care. As a Christian Scientist, my chosen form of care is often left out of the conversation, even though it has been a reliable system of healthcare available to Oregonians for over 140 years.
Many people in Oregon practice alternative healthcare. I know of many Oregonians who use Christian Science as their preferred healthcare system. In order to meet their needs the Exchange Corporation should consider making benefits available for spiritual care services that are deductible under Section 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code. This language narrowly describes what’s meant by spiritual care by referring to the Internal Revenue Code’s definition of “medical care.” That definition has been interpreted to extend to services provided by Christian Science practitioners, Christian Science nurses and Christian Science nursing facilities, as well as other religious practices that are aimed at restoring health.
The services of Christian Science practitioners, Christian Science nurses and Christian Science nursing facilities are patient-centered and patient-directed. They are not provided by the church, but by care providers whose services are available to the public. These providers are compensated by those who request their help. They do their own billing and follow criteria imposed by insurance plans.
The services of Christian Science providers have been covered under private and government insurance plans for many years. For example, Medicare covers physical care provided in a religious nonmedical health care institution. TRICARE and four plans under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program cover various aspects of Christian Science care. The Oregon Public Employee Benefit Board definition of “benefit plan” includes “ comparable benefits for employees who rely on spiritual means of healing”.
I encourage the Oregon Health Insurance Exchange Corporation to evaluate making spiritual care services available through the exchange. The needs of all Oregonians should be carefully considered as the Corporation fulfills its duties within the parameters of state and federal law. This approach will promote the goals of healthcare reform by providing the public access to a low cost form of care that contributes to healthy outcomes.
John Clague is the Christian Science media and legislative liaison for Oregon.
Today, Memorial Day, I feel moved to share this blog post by my friend from Florida, Bob Clark, who is also my colleague as the Christian Science Committee on Publication for his state. His story is fitting for this day of honoring those who have served our country. Thank you, Bob, for sharing. John D. Clague, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Oregon.
Memorial Day is the most moving of American holidays, at least for me. That may be because my father, a soldier in WWII, came back from the war in the Pacific wounded…and transformed. In his family four sons served overseas; two were in the Battle of the Bulge and two in the Pacific. All came home. Men who survive the horrors of war are grateful both for their own survival and for the sacrifices of those who don’t come home.
My father did more than survive the war. Like so many others, he was transformed by it. He was wounded by friendly fire in the South Pacific. Assumed to be damaged beyond repair by a 50 caliber machine gun bullet, he was taken to a makeshift hospital, where he was found by his younger brother. The doctors had to give up on him and move on to other critically injured men.
My uncle didn’t give up. Instead, he read to my father from The Bible and from the religious textbook they had grown up with in the Christian Science Sunday School in South Bend, Indiana. This book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, contains this sentence, “God is Love.” More than this we cannot ask, higher we cannot look, farther we cannot go.”
My father remembers those three words, “God is Love”, from The Bible, I John 4:16, appearing to him, through the fog of approaching death, just as they had looked on the wall of his Sunday School. They were all he had to hang on to. And they were enough.
My dad came home from the war greatly humbled, and also deeply committed to the study and practice of Christian Science. The Christian Science textbook, together with The Bible, had acted as a pastor in his time of need and pulled him back from the brink of death. That made a believer out of him. And it also made him a great example.
So my prayer this Memorial Day weekend is that the sacrifices of American men and women in the armed services will continue to be transformative in small and large ways and that we continue to be grateful for those who do not come back…and for those who do.
What impact will health care reform in the United States have on the health care delivery system in Oregon? I’ve been watching this pretty closely. One trend, even before the current reform began, is the shortage of care givers. Now, with reform, there is increased access to care making the shortage worse. Availability of good health care is a concern to patients, policy makers, and legislators alike.
In a recent article, Joe Rojas-Burke of The Oregonian points out that one way to meet this need is through nursing.
“As the U.S. extends health coverage to 32 million people… nurses are likely to be key in areas of medicine with too few doctors, such as primary care, obstetrics, geriatrics and mental health.
“‘Nursing is absolutely critical to help fill the void,’ says Michael Bleich, dean of the School of Nursing at Oregon Health & Science University, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.” 1 [link]
Some years back, long before this anticipated shortage of health care providers, an incident made me realize the important role nursing plays in any health care system. Before I began my practice of Christian Science, I needed medical intervention because of a serious farming accident. Nurses were an important part of my initial care. Later, through marriage, medical nurses became a part of my extended family. I saw their commitment to their profession and the care they provide to patients.
I imagine many don’t realize that nursing also has a role in the practice of healing through prayer, or spiritual health care. As I talked with legislators about why, as a Christian Scientist, I am interested in health care reform, some were surprised that there are Christian Science nurses. Many policy makers view nursing exclusively as part of the medical system. Since they hadn’t thought of health care in the context of spiritual care, this was completely new to them.
I have also come to appreciate what nurses do within the practice of spiritual healing. Christian Science nurses don’t administer medications or perform medical procedures. But, while the patient is healing, they take care of everyday concerns for cleanliness, bandaging, cooking, assists in lifting and walking, housekeeping, and the like. Unlike the point that Rojas-Burke makes, a Christian Science nurse isn’t filling a void created by the lack of another care-giver, but rather he compliments the patient’s practice of healing through prayer. This would also involve the work of a Christian Science practitioner who is actively affirming God’s power to heal through prayer. At the same time the nurse through her own prayers, maintains an atmosphere around the patient that allows healing to be a natural outcome of the patient’s recognition of his or her innate spiritual wholeness.
Because the service they provide is “up close and personal,” nurses have to have special qualities that facilitate healing, besides their technical training. Mary Baker Eddy, who provided for Christian Science nursing, clearly understood the healing qualities a nurse should possess. She says, “The nurse should be cheerful, orderly, punctual, patient, full of faith, — receptive to Truth and Love.”2
These qualities aren’t a substitute to fill a void left by a shortage of anything. They have always been essential to the healing process.
1. Rojas-Burke, Joe. The Oregonian. “Health reform likely to expand role of nurses; Oregon, Washington ahead of most states.” Tuesday, May 03, 2011
2. Eddy, Mary Baker. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Christian Science Publishing Society, Boston. p. 395